Take That Second Week
Here’s what I discovered: I had never really relaxed during a beach vacation. True, I enjoyed sunbathing and would lie outside a few hours every day, weather permitting. But given the paucity of time represented by seven days, there was always something to do: a different adventure, one more sight to see, another restaurant to try. I wouldn’t say that such vacations were busy, just that they were filled with things I perceived as relaxing at the time.
I don’t know—maybe if I were more accomplished in meditation or a long-practicing yogi, relaxation would have come sooner and been deeper. But without consulting any research, I believe there is a dimension to relaxation that comes only with time. During my two-week vacation, I noticed that the first week was really a long process of unwinding, and it wasn’t until I was into the second week that I felt that letting go and relaxing had come into being. By the end of the second week, I was more rested than ever before and I felt ready to return to the everyday. I may not have wanted to return to it, but I was ready for it.
For as long as I can remember, I bemoaned corporate America’s assertion that a week of vacation was acceptable. Even when some companies started to give two weeks of vacation to first-year employees, that, too seemed scandalous to me. I was of the opinion that Europeans—who’s standard practice is to take weeks and sometimes months of vacation—understood life and living far better than we Americans do.
But change has already begun. Millennials seem to have different perspectives about work and play and all things in between than my generation did. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that the rules of employment have changed so drastically since the time I entered the workforce. I believe millennials see time as their own, whereas generations before them became numb to the false compartmentalization inflicted upon their lives, as in, “This stack of time is mine, and that stack of time belongs to my employer.” Marx was fundamentally right in his analysis of the alienation of labor.
In the end, the only asset we have that really matters is time. Regardless of the state of our portfolios, we feel prosperous when we choose how to spend our time. Here’s to all of us spending our time well, in personal evolution and in giving. And let’s make sure to take that second week—for ourselves and for those whom we love. They, too, will benefit from the version of ourselves that is relaxed, rested and recharged.